Three new bus routes for Carlow-Kilkenny were among the 67 new or enhanced rural bus services announced by the National Transport Authority today and coming on stream across Ireland this year. The Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan for 2023 was announced by the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, and the National Transport Authority in Tullamore today, and it is one of the most ambitious plans yet for rural transport.
The Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan for 2023 builds significantly on what has already been delivered in terms of providing public transport links across rural Ireland. We’ve seen locally, and the figures back this up, that the response from customers to new services that have come on stream has been really strong, because people do desperately want options and alternatives to using the car for every journey.
The new routes that have been or will be delivered for Carlow Kilkenny this year will make an enormous difference to people, and I’m particularly happy to see enhanced connectivity between Kilkenny, Castlecomer, Carlow and Athy. This is a really important route, particularly with the connection to the South East Technological University and local employment services. We know the demand for these services is there, because the increase in services, the increase in frequency, and the 25% reduction in public transport fares mean we had significantly more people using Local Link services last year than we did in 2019, pre-Covid. We need to build on this work and continue to make public transport a reliable, convenient and affordable option for as many people as possible.
The provision of a strong, reliable transport network across rural Ireland is one of the Green Party’s key priorities in government, and the Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan is already playing a key role in providing connectivity, sustainability, and most importantly of all mobility, independence and choice for people can’t or don’t want to own a car. It’s particularly important that we make this a viable transport option for young people, who enjoy a further 50% off public transport fares with the Young Adult LEAP card introduced by the Green Party in last year.
This transition couldn't be more important, and the more people choose public transport the better it is for our environment as well. Public transport, both rural and urban, has a critical role to play in ensuring Ireland meets its emissions targets. With the announcement of 67 new routes nationally and three new routes to be operational in Carlow Kilkenny by the end of this year, it’s a good day for public transport, a good day for climate action, and a really positive development for Carlow Kilkenny, and for all our regional towns and cities.